A channel strategy can mean different things, depending on your product and who your target customer is. For B2B software companies, it might focus on integrators to work with end customers, or with developers that will integrate APIs and web services into their products.

For companies that ship physical goods, like hardware companies, ecommerce and brick and mortar retail can be a critical part of achieving scale. Balancing costs and complexity with revenue can be challenging, especially as a company grows in new markets.

Regardless of the strategy, building a channel doesn't happen overnight. It means being smart about incentives, recruitment, support, positioning/messaging, and ongoing evaluation. There are lots of tradeoffs, and figuring out how to balance revenue, cost, and management complexity can be a challenge.

A common place to start when thinking evaluating your distribution and channel programs is to understand how your program compares to what other companies typically offer. It's especially interesting to look at it from the partners' perspective, which can be hard to get without help from an outside research firm.